Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Liberals and the Quebec Question

It's a debate you'd expect to hear at a party like this one. But it's one being hoisted upon us by the Liberal Party, which only makes it more absurd.

With Jeff Jedras as the Mad Hatter spouting this nonsense.

Now, you could try to argue the NDP is just saying Quebec picks the question but that doesn’t mean the feds can’t reject it. I don’t read it that way, but to make that argument you’d have to overlook the face they don’t say the question is open to judgment so, at best, in that scenario you’re arguing they’re deliberately misleading Quebecers by leaving that part out. But I don’t buy it; they’ll clearly accept Quebec’s question, no reservations. And accepting a confusing or misleading question that could lead to the break-up of Canada is unacceptable.

Which puts the question before the crisis, like a cart before the horse.

Lawrence Martin as the March Hare, asking whether the NDP is more Bloc than the Bloc.

When the Commons reconvenes, who knows what other sleeping dogs the Dipper 59 will awaken? In order to maintain their support in Quebec, what choice do they have but to take up the Bloc’s priorities?

Even though Quebecers just voted overwhelmingly to show their faith in federalism by giving the Bloc the boot.

And Impolitical as the Dormouse, dredging up Claude Morin.

The 82-year-old separatist and RCMP spy, who nobody has taken seriously for almost three decades.

It's crazy kooky stuff, and it would be laughable. Just another example of the once mighty Liberal Party failing to come to terms with its new and reduced status...

But tragically it's no laughing matter, because in their bitterness the Liberals seem determined to take the country to the brink of destruction. Again.

In the 1990's they revived the separatist movement, by torpedoing the Meech Lake Accord, and denying Quebec the right to call itself a distinct society. When it so obviously is. Then they bungled the referendum campaign and almost lost the country.

Then they rubbed salt in the wounds of the province with their heavy handed and vindictive Clarity Act which managed to annoy both separatists and federalists. By treating Quebecers like children, in a province where separatists and federalists often share the same dinner table.

And then when that backfired, they tried to bribe them with the tacky sponsorship program, and we all know how that one worked out.

Now they are trying to deny Jack Layton's historic achievement, and whip up anti-Quebec feeling in a country where there is far too much of that blind hatred. And for what?

When the only people who will benefit from that are the Cons and the separatists. And our country could be the big loser.

Oh boy. I don't want to get into a slagging match with the Liberals, as others are doing. As everybody knows my only interest is uniting the progressive movement. And I'm willing to give the Liberals a little more time to heal.

But if they don't see the errors of their ways, and keep on attacking the NDP instead of the Cons, I will have no choice.

Because the danger is great.

My beautiful Canada includes my beautiful Qu├ębec.

And I will not see it so easily DESTROYED...

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers


Anonymous said...

No, I think you've missed it this time, though nearly every other post you write, I give a big red check-mark to.

Don't you remember the last referendum? Did you see me and my co-workers in Montreal, driving together down the 401 to say Vote To Stay In Canada? You know how close that was? And you really want to go back there?

I haven't seen too much urgency from Quebecers recently in terms of separation. I don't think that there is a fire in the belly for that. But I think that Layton was offered the bait and took it, badly. He clearly hadn't thought his answer through. You can have 51 percent of voters and still only represent 20% of the population. Good grief. That's how we ended up with a Harper Majority. Is that really democracy in action? How is that appropriate for a decision that will affect the standard of living and indeed quality of life for all Canadians for the next 3 or 4 generations?

I don't think name-calling is appropriate, but I don't think blindly following a bad idea is wise either. I don't think that Quebec voted orange because they were looking for a separatist leader. They voted for someone to more actively represent their vision of Quebec within Canada and their vision of Canada as a whole.

The most NDP thing that Layton should be espousing is that whatever the percentage, whatever the vote question, the vote should be mandatory so that the loudest voices do not overpower those who think that their votes and opinions are too small to matter.

Jeff said...


The paragraph you attribute to me was not, in fact, written by me and did not even appear on my blog. It was written by another blogger on another blog site (small dead animals) and quoted by another blogger (buckdog).

I'd appreciate it if you would correct your attribution.


Simon said...

hi anonymous...

Don't you remember the last referendum? Did you see me and my co-workers in Montreal, driving together down the 401 to say Vote To Stay In Canada? You know how close that was? And you really want to go back there?

No I don't, but I'm afraid that's where we might end up if the Liberals help resuscitate the bitter divisions that lie fallow in this country.

As you point out Quebecers didn't vote for a separatist leader, but that's what some Liberals are making it sound like.

And if you read the comments in the Globe and Mail you can see how others are using it as an excuse to bash Quebec.

I'm not worried about the question, because 94 percent of Quebecers voted in the last referendum, they knew what they were voting for and whether it's 51percent or 55 percent if Quebecers don't feel they belong in Canada they will go and nothing will stop them.

And that's what I'm afraid of. I see Layton's achievement as a plus for Canada. And I don't see any merit in denying that.

But hey that's just my opinion, I'm trying to stay away from insulting anyone, but on some matters we must agree to disagree... ;)

Simon said...

Hi Jeff...I'm sorry about that. I really should have hit the link to Small Dead Animals but for obvious reasons I hate to do that.

So what I have done is link to your original article, which to your credit is considerably more nuanced.

But I still consider it mad hatterish in that it makes far too much of this minor semantic question.

And as you can see by some of the comments to your piece it inflames some of the anti-Quebec feeling that I fear so much.

Still, I do apologize for misquoting you, that's inexcusable.

And I only hope that you can help lead other Liberals out of the quagmire I feel your party's position is leading you.

And that we can concentrate on uniting both the Liberals and the NDP to fight the common enemy...

Simon said...

One more thing Jeff...I think it would be instructive for everyone to read what Frank V said in the comments to Martin's piece:

It think this article is missing the point.

Nobody in Quebec is surprised that the election result is a boon to the nationalists. Most people in Quebec saw that coming within minutes of seeing the election results. Only Globe and Mail journalists took that long to catch up on that respect. The demise of the block was never thought of a good thing for Canada’s unity, whatever Harper says, or G&M columnists.
Quebec has always been more left-leaning that most of Canada, and the Bloc has indeed been convenient in hiding that fact under the nationalist rug. Now that they’re gone, it’s harder to ignore. Compounding things is the fact that the Liberals are gone, meaning that while Quebec’s position on the political spectrum hasn’t changed too much (it’s only more obvious), that of the rest of the country shifted markedly to the right. That creates a rift that is obvious and problematic for the unity of the country. But it has little to do with the NDP per se; it’s about political division between Quebec and Canada that is made more obvious. The NDP itself isn’t that relevant, nor do I think that how the NDP position itself in this regard is going to change things much.

I think most in Canada, and from what I’ve read especially at the G&M (I don’t mean to hammer the G&M here, I like many of the article and it’s still probably the best newspaper in Canada, but you guys don’t get Quebec very well), don’t really understand how devastating it is for us to be governed by the Conservatives. They had a little run after the scandals with the Liberals, but that was largely a reaction to that scandal, not an endorsement of the Conservative agenda per se. It’s a matter of values, and values are deeply entrenched, emotional and therefore harder to understand for those who don’t share them.

I wasn’t a separatist. I had sympathy for the idea, but I was feeling like the time had gone. It seemed to me that Quebec had other problems of its own to solve before thinking about becoming a country. Besides, for a time it was harder to see what exactly would be that different on the political side. I think that the Liberal agenda was mostly acceptable to most Quebeckers. Details may differ, but then even if Quebec would be a country, regions would have differing views, too. But now all that is changed. My ideals are very far from overpriced fighter jets, money for prisons, fighting drug wars, thougher laws against abortion and prostitution, opaque parliamentary procedures, populists and inefficient GST cuts, careless handling of environment issues and so on. If a referendum was to be held today, I think I would for Yes, even though a couple months ago I wouldn’t have. I know many who are thinking along similar lines.

It has very little to do with the NDP, as far as I am concerned. This has much deeper roots.

Because it speaks more directly to the real ideological question, and again points out the obvious dangers...

Simon said...

Note to readers....

In the interest of fairness, and so you know what I am talking about, I should point out what quote I originally mistakenly attributed to Jeff:

Layton is like a 12 year-old boy playing with firecrackers, except that he's not using his own fingers but rather those of the Canadian public. Fueled purely by his own ego, he's opening up a can of worms that is likely to be more than a little rancid. Do the majority of Canadians really want to spend this next decade dwelling on Quebec sovereignty issues ... yet again?!

Where I got it from:


And repeat that misquoting Jeff was bad enough, but quoting Small Dead Animals is even more embarrassing.

However, I believe the point I'm trying to make remains intact. We need to re-open the Clarity Act debate like we need a hole in the head.

And Jack Layton's achievement in banishing the Bloc is the most encouraging development on the national unity front that I have ever seen...

Skinny Dipper said...

This is the first time in recent Canadian history where we will have a governing party not dependent on Quebec, and the official opposition party dependent on Quebec at the same time. The Conservative Party is essentially the English Canadian party while the NDP is predominantly the French Canadian party. We will have a Canadian-Belgian waffle parliament.

While Quebec may have the legal leverage to thwart Harper's proposed Senate reform, the province and its inhabitants will lack the social leverage to convince English Canadians/Harper Canadians to change or not change Canada's political institutions. While Canadians may need Quebec, Harper Canadians may not need Quebec. Without Quebec in Canada, there may still be a Harper Canada not dependent on Quebec for any economic union or sovereignty association.

My words may seem harsh. However, we Canadians may face difficult socio-cultural battles even without Harper's proposed Senate reform and redistribution of seats in the House of Commons.

Simon said...

hi skinny dipper...I appreciate your point. But I don't see it as a bad thing to have a federalist party representing the interests of Quebec. When the Bloc did a lot of things were swept under the carpet, and if this country is going to survive we need to give them a good airing.
Your other point is also a good one. Harper doesn't need Quebec and in fact it's in the longterm interests of the Cons to try to drive the province out.
Because if Quebec did secede, the rest of Canada would be Conservative forever. Just like Britain would be conservative if Scotland ever left.
Which only reinforces my point that the Liberal strategy of trying to demonize the NDP on the issue of national unity makes absolutely no sense.
As English Canada becomes more Americanized and conservative, Quebec remains a bastion of traditional Canadian values, and we all lose if it leaves...

The Mound of Sound said...

We read so much into a single election when its true significance won't be known for at least another two to three polls. NDP triumphalism is a bit premature until we can discern whether this is a true dynamic or an electoral burp.

Oemissions said...

my 2 bits: I say kudos to the people of Quebec for showing their strong dislike for the old boys parties and seeing the NDP as a progressive vote
and to the Libs I say suck itup guys
we tried your brand and it failed us
I voted in the late 70s, early, mid 80s for the Part Quebecois as an English western Canadian residing in la belle province
this NDP thing is NOT about separatism
it's about caring for this planet and humanism
bloggers need to focus on what's really at issue for all of us: our daily survival and future survival on this ailing planet

Simon said...

hi Mound...I hope I don't sound like a triumphalist, because I feel exactly the opposite. I can't remember a worst time politically speaking, and you're right nobody can predict what's going to happen.
What I find depressing is the sight of progressives fighting each other while Harper laughs. And one thing I do know for sure is that it's going to be a long four years...

Simon said...

hi Oemissions...I agree with everything you say. I too was proud to see so many Quebecers take a chance with the NDP, even if it meant hurting people like Gilles Duceppe who was both respected and loved. I'm afraid that gesture has been lost in the darkness that followed the election. But history will record it as a unique opportunity. Whether it will pay off however remains to be seen. And if it doesn't I can easily see that orange wave turning into a blue one.
Quebecers saved us from at least one Con majority. They were no doubt hoping that other Canadians would follow them, but alas that was not to be.
Now that I see the ugly reaction in English Canada my heart is more than ever with my province, and wherever they decide to go I shall follow them...